|Mesa Grill was transformed into Plain Kitchen today.|
Then I zipped in to the city this afternoon to cook with him [and a fleet of publicists, and about 15 other editors/writers/foodies] @ Mesa Grill, 102 Fifth Avenue. The famous restaurant was dressed in flowing white and decked with Fage [pronounced FA-yay] Total Yogurt accessories, including snowy throw pillows in the cocktail lounge. Even the perfect doll-sized zucchini fritters the wait staff passed were topped with an equally dainty dollop of creamy, plain Fage Total Greek yogurt.
We broke off into groups of four @ stainless-steel cooking stations and prepared two dishes using Fage: Crushed Spicy Hummus and Spice-Crusted Lamb Tenderloin.
Mandy from prevention.com, who was in my group, put the ingredients into the food processor following Bobby's directions. First, chickpeas, then fresh lemon juice, finely chopped green chile, toasted sesame oil, a lot of chopped garlic, fragrant cumin, salt, pepper, some Fage yogurt and more.....meanwhile, I crushed an equal amount of chickpeas with a fork. We stirred the smooth, whirred mixture into the bowl with the mashed beans and dug in with baked pita chips.
Why leave some roughly mashed? "When I eat hamburgers and cheeseburgers, I put potato chips on top because I like the crunch factor. I like my hummus a little crunchy, too," the celeb chef said.
It was really good.
Bobby's take on the lamb tenderloin plated with salad was artful and delicious. First, we swirled a little canola oil in the pan for searing the meat.
"Extravirgin olive oil is not to cook with," said Bobby. "I don't heat it up, ever. I want the full flavor in a finishing sauce, or on a piece of fish or meat right off the grill." For cooking, he suggested canola or grapeseed oil. This not cooking with EVOO was news to me, b/c I use it as an almost all-purpose fat, to saute garlic and shrimp, to fry flounder or trout, even to soften onions and peppers when I'm making chili. And as a last resort, I've even used it in cakes, something Dad taught me.
Maggie from Food & Wine, also in my group, helped brush the lamb with yogurt before the spices went on. I stirred up the sauce we dolloped on the side--yogurt, of course, but with chopped almonds and pomegranate molasses, freshly torn mint leaves, salt, pepper. Bobby said to not stir the molasses all the way in, so the sauce had a marbled look. Then we dropped vibrant ruby red pom seeds on top of the dollop, which was nestled just so next to the meat and lightly dressed salad greens on a perfect big white plate. I would love to make that mint sauce again.
We sat down to eat. At my table, two staffers from Saveur and an editor from Fine Cooking, a personal favorite of mine and my go-to website for great baking recipes. Fage ran a contest and chose a winning appetizer, entree and dessert. We met Debbie, whose Four Cheese Italian Macaroni and Cheese Cups app won her a flight from Florida with her husband, a night @ a 5-star hotel and a chance to cook with Bobby. The menu included the three contest-winning recipes but also some other incredible ones made with Fage. My favorites:
- Fillet of Beef with Fage Total Stroganoff Cream.
- Toasted Coconut-Lime and Fage Total Semifreddo [made with Fage Total 2%, gelatin, heavy cream and coconut milk]. So good! Want to make it.
This press event opened my eyes in more ways than one. And made me remember, once again, how much fun it is to work on a magazine staff--just by being with all of those editors, hearing the tidbits about their work lives. I think I'm eager to get back into that world. One day @ a time.
- Salon blowout.
- Walked 40-plus minutes in NYC, including back from restaurant to Port Authority.